Syria Crisis Response Update (issue no 63)

17 November 2013
Syria Crisis Response Update (issue no 63)


Conflict is increasingly encroaching on UNRWA camps with shelling and clashes continuing to take place in and nearby a number of them. A reported 17 Palestine Refugees (PR) were killed in the last 2 weeks as a result. UNRWA estimates over 50% of registered PR are displaced in Syria or in neighbouring countries.

Approximately 235,000 refugees are displaced in Syria with over 200,000 in Damascus, around 6,600 in Aleppo, 4,500 in Latakia, 3,050 in Hama, 6,450 in Homs and 13,100 in Dera’a. 10,166 PR from Syria (PRS) have registered with UNRWA for assistance in Jordan and 49,500 in Lebanon. UNRWA tracks reports of 6,000 PRS in Egypt, 1,100 in Libya, 1,000 in Gaza, numbers in Turkey and UNHCR reports up to 1000 fled to Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.

  1. Situation summary

  • Despite considerable challenges UNRWA is continuing to deliver emergency relief, health and education services to PR across Syria.
  • Intermittent and sporadic hostilities including shelling and mortars continued in and around the camps of Yarmouk, Husseiniyah, Sbeineh, Barzeh, Jobar, Qaboun, Khan Eshieh and Dera’a. A total 17 PR were reportedly killed as a result: 15 in Yarmouk and 2 in Dera’a which is a reduction on previous weeks.  
  • Yarmouk and Sbeineh camps continue to be sealed off with UNRWA increasingly concerned about the well-being of those trapped.
  • All 4 Area Offices and Syria Field Office in Damascus operational all week with most staff attending.
  • 8 staff members killed, 18 staff currently detained or reported missing and 14 injured. 21 UNRWA vehicles stolen and not accounted for. Aggressive behavior was reported and drugs were confiscated from IDPs in an UNRWA temporary collective shelter in Damascus. 1 staff member was threatened by a PR with death if they did not find work for them. An agency clinic and school in Dera’a camp were damaged by shelling and one student received minor injuries from a bullet shattering glass while attending an UNRWA school in Dera’a.


UNRWA is sheltering 8,100 (-172 from the previous report) displaced PR and Syrians in 18 Agency facilities in Syria. 85% of these, 6,885 are PR (see table 1). There has been a slight decline in the number of PR and Syrian IDPs in UNRWA facilities since August but it remains just over 8,000. A further 3,307 (-216 from the previous report) PR are being sheltered in 13 non-UNRWA facilities in Damascus, Aleppo and Latakia. Nearly 18,000 PR have been identified or approached UNRWA having fled from other areas:

  • 3,004 in Hama Camp from Yarmouk and Ein El Tal;
  • 6,420 in Homs Camp having fled Aleppo, Damascus and Homs countryside; and
  • 4,318 in Latakia camp having fled from Yarmouk and Ein El Tal.


  1. Humanitarian Response


Education in Emergency

  • Over 47,000 PR children are enrolled in UNRWA schools in Syria. Over 19,000 are attending 42 regular UNRWA schools with some working on a triple shift system. Over 28,000 are attending 36 governmental schools the Ministry of Education agreed for UNRWA to use in the afternoon where UNRWA schools have been damaged, are not accessible or are temporary collective shelters. UNRWA is upgrading some of the schools where necessary.
  • 42 out of 118 UNRWA schools are operating, 68 are closed due to damage or insecurity, 8 because they are operating as temporary collective shelters for PR and displaced Syrians. A further 8 schools are partially hosting displaced PR and Syrians and also operating as schools.
  • 1,783 UNRWA teachers are working to provide education to PR in Syria and 30 psychosocial counselors have been recruited to work with the children. Self-learning materials are being prepared for all grades and subjects in coordination with Syrian Ministry of Education and UNICEF.
  • Implementation of 2 programmes, School-Based Teacher Development programme and Leading for the Future, has been launched targeting teachers in grades 1-6 and headteachers in Damascus.
  • Maintenance being conducted at schools when required.

Engaging Youth

  • Youth development and community support: 1125 students receiving psychosocial support, first aid training, life skills and extra-curricular/ stress-release activities in UNRWA camps and temporary collective shelters in Damascus, Hama and Latakia. Preparing to extend to further camps.
  • Vocational education: 1376 students undertaking a wide range of short-term vocational education courses in Aleppo, Damascus, Hama, Homs and Latakia including accountancy, electronics, hear and beauty, cooking, graphic design, human resources and nursing. Further courses being prepared.
  • Career guidance: 444 young people receiving in Damascus, Dera’a, Homs and Latakia.
  • Business development: 34 young people in Damascus undertaking activities including start-up training and follow-up. Preparation for extending this to Homs.
  • Continuing education: 1939 young people undertaking courses in English, French, computer skills, literacy and numeracy in Damascus, Hama, Homs and Latakia with preparations to extend further.

Health in Emergency

  • Health centres and points: 5 health centres operational in Damascus; and 1 each in Homs, Hama, Latakia, Neirab and Aleppo. 6 health points in Damascus, a new centre opened in rural Damascus and 1 in Aleppo. 3 more health points are being planned in Damascus.
  • Medical supplies: drug supplies distributed to north, south and Damascus areas enough to cover until end February 2014.
  • Hospitalisation: reimbursements of non-contracted hospital bills, granting PR in Syria access to health facilities across the country.
  • Infectious diseases: participating in national immunisation campaign targeting polio (0-5 years), measles, mumps and rubella (1-15 years) in cooperation and coordination with Ministry of Health and UNICEF. Enhancement of polio surveillance among PR and no cases detected so far.
  • Increase in prevalence of psycho-social trauma, stress/anxiety disorders reported.

Emergency Relief

  • Cash assistance: 3rd round distribution ongoing targeting 474,896 PR with SYP 12,000 per person and should be completed by the end of October if sufficient funding secured. 85,254 PR families have received assistance so far in Damascus. 3rd round cash distribution started in central Syria targeting 9,035 PR families (4,045 in Homs, 2,113 in Hama and 2,877 in Latakia).
  • 2nd round of cash distributions restarted in Dera’a to reach all PR affected by the conflict there. 2nd round of cash distributions has started in Northern Syria, Ein El Tal area to 1,285 families.
  • Food and NFI distributions: 2nd round of food distributions ongoing with plan to reach 84,951 families in Damascus. 12,792 food baskets distributed in Damascus in this period, 8472 portions of canned food, 8000 portions of milk, nearly 2000 diapers and over 1200 female hygiene kits. 6 distribution centres continue to be operational in Damascus.
  • Continuing work with Iraqi PR in Syria including regular counselling and visits in cooperation with UNHCR and local partners.

Water and sanitation in emergency

  • Sanitation: Continuing to provide regular sanitation services to all PR camps and UNRWA facilities. Garbage collection and removal on a regular basis for all PR camps and temporary collective centres but one. Regular maintenance of 200 UNRWA facilities and upgrading sewage systems.  
  • Water: Work being conducted on the well in Neirab and installing a new water pump. Gaining government approval for digging a new well in Hama camp and providing safe drinking water to temporary collective shelters. Shower units being installed in 4 temporary collective shelters and ongoing shelter improvements.
  • Winterization: activities progressing for temporary collective shelters.


Financed 444 microfinance loans in September valued at SYP 15.93 million (131 in Tartous, 125 in Latakia, 125 in Sweyda and 63 in Damascus). Newly established branch offices in Latakia, Tartous and Sweyda are increasing the outreach of the programme.

Portfolio at risk is less than 1%. The programme had to write off 8,534 loans as a result of the conflict, of which 13% are now closed and 17% are collected from.

Survey completed on the impact of the crisis on the living conditions of the microfinance clients, their households and enterprises. The first in a series of quarterly reports on socioeconomic conditions in Syria, funded by the European Union (EU) and contracted from the Syrian Centre for Policy Research was published online. Find the report at


Graph 1: UNRWA food and cash distributions in Syria cumulative since March 2011 as of 11 November 2013


Graph 2: UNRWA distributions in Syria in 2013 by location and type as of 11 November 2013






52% of PRS live in UNRWA camps and the rest live in private rented accommodation or informal gatherings.










Education: 7,216 PRS children are attending UNRWA schools. The majority are attending special classes for PRS focusing on subjects including Arabic, English and maths as well as recreational activities and some are integrated in UNRWAs regular classes for PR in Lebanon. A new special centre has been opened in Tyre to accommodate the additional students and 310 additional teaching staff have been recruited and trained as well as psycho-social counselors. Additional back to school kits were distributed to all PRS students. Continuing to actively encourage PRS parents to enrol their children in school.

Health: Continue to deliver medical consultations and medication through 27 health centres. Covering primary health and 50% of secondary and tertiary hospitalisation for emergency and life-saving conditions, with 50% being covered by NGO partners. Introduced an Emergency Room Service for PRS at contracted secondary care hospitals where UNRWA will cover all costs. PRS patients suffering from critical health conditions also supported through a CARE programme which provides additional support for PRS to cover medical bills including hospitalisation, medication and treatment including for cancer.

Protection: Continue to monitor and offer advice and assistance to PRS crossing at the border and advocate with Lebanese Government for equal treatment of all refugees at the border

Relief: Phase 3 of ATM card distribution took place for newly registered PRS. Approx. 13,000 PRS families across Lebanon have received cash assistance through the cards credited with $33 per person.

Finalised winterization package and planning to distribute to up to 60,000 PRS by end March 2014.

Funding: 86% of the $65 million Syria crisis appeal for 2013 has been received or committed from donors including EU, US, Germany, Kuwait, Japan, France, OCHA, Italy, Australia, UNICEF, Norway, Ireland, SDC, QRCS, US friends of UNRWA, Iceland, Hungary and an in-kind donation from Sweden.


10,166 PRS are recorded with UNRWA in Jordan

They receive relief, education, health and protection services. There has been an average 560 new PRS registered per month since April 2013. A headcount will be conducted to confirm the PRS numbers.

Most reside in communities with host families or in rental premises mainly in Irbid, Zarqa and Amman. 186 reside in Cyber City, the government appointed facility in Irbid. A large number are assessed to live in abject poverty. Their precarious legal status means they face difficulties in relation to civil processes and access to services and employment.

Education: 1,713 displaced PRS children continue their education from grade 1 to 10 in UNRWA schools and 52% are girls. 1,188 PRS children are also reportedly enrolled in Government or private schools. UNRWA will continue its outreach with the PRS community and identify ways to encourage families to enroll their children in schools. UNRWA also started providing technical and vocational education opportunities to PRS youth. 15 PRS youth are following courses in UNRWA’s technical training centers and teacher training institute in information technology, financial management and teaching.

Graph 3 Number of PRS enrolled in UNRWA schools in Jordan in 2013

Relief: Distributed approx. USD 1.9m in over 30,000 payments to PRS in 2013. 8,681 PRS have received at least 1 round of cash assistance. 6,747 have received 1 or more installment depending on their arrival date. 260 PRS have received an urgent cash assistance to address a specific shock or critical need. Food distribution stopped in September and will be replaced by cash entitlement of that value and a cash entitlement to cover NFIs. Delays in receiving donor funding has delayed distributions in October.



Health: Continuing to provide free primary health care to PRS in all UNRWA clinics and referrals with full coverage to government hospitals. Caseworkers continue to refer PRS with psychosocial problems. So far in 2013 PRS have made 14,125 free consultations.

Funding: UNRWAs PRS response plan for Jordan is 88% funded by UK, US , OCHA, Switzerland, European Union (EU), Japan, Kuwait and New Zealand.


Security summary


Damascus / Rif Damascus:

In the East

Sporadic clashes and shelling at the beginning of the period continued around Barzeh, Jobar and Qaboun and adjacent areas of Zamalka and Eastern Ghouta intensifying to intermittent in the middle of the period. Most UNRWA facilities remain closed in the areas except 2 schools housing IDPs in Qaboun.

In the South,

Varying sporadic and intermittent clashes and shelling continued in and around the camps of Yarmouk, Sbeineh, Douma and Qabr Essit although Ramadan continued to be relatively calm. Sporadic clashes and shelling in Yarmouk at the start of the reporting period increased to intensive towards the end of the period. Many shells impacted in the camp daily and 15 PR were reportedly killed as a result. Intensive clashes and shelling in Sbeineh late in the period allegedly also included airstrikes. The number of PR reportedly killed is an increase on previous weeks.

Sporadic and intermittent clashes and shelling continued in the southwest including around Darayya, Moadhamiyeh and Khan Eshieh around the same levels as in previous weeks. Shells continued to impact in Khan Eshieh but less than in previous weeks and with no reported PR deaths as a result. The main roads to the areas remained cut off or blocked by the security forces.

Yarmouk and Sbeineh camps remain sealed off with access blocked by the security forces. Less than 30% of Yarmouk residents remain and less than 5% in Sbeineh with armed opposition elements present in both. Facilities also remain closed in Douma, Jobar, Qaboun and Barzeh due to ongoing conflict in and around them. PR that remain in these camps are extremely vulnerable with limited or no flight options.

Aleppo: Intensive clashes and shelling in the city at the beginning of the reporting period continuing to centre around Bustan Al Qaser with mortars landing close to the area office. This subsided to intermittent for the remaining period showing no large change with previous reporting periods.

Ein El Tal: A reported 30 families have returned to the camp but it otherwise remains deserted and occupied by armed opposition groups with the main road to the camp blocked. It remained relatively calm as in previous reporting periods until the end of the period when 3 mortars reportedly impacted in the camp accompanied with clashes in the camp. Neirab camp and surrounding areas remained relatively calm as in previous weeks with all facilities operational. However, reports were received of PR injured by gunshots presumably from snipers while traveling on the road to Aleppo.

Dera’a: Varying sporadic and intensive clashes and shelling in the period including in the vicinity of the camp. Reports of shells regularly impacting in the camp daily with 2 PR and 1 civilian killed as a result and a number injured. Reports of an accompanying airstrike in the middle of the period. The hostilities and number killed was a reduction on previous weeks. Mzerieb: Relatively calm for most of the reporting period and all facilities operational as in previous reports. Jillien remained mostly relatively calm as in previous weeks with some sporadic shelling in surrounding areas. The main road to the village remains blocked it remains accessible from side roads.

Homs: Intensive clashes and shelling continued from previous weeks with reports of 2 VBIEDs although no rockets or mortars. Homs camp remained relatively calm as in previous weeks except for one shell impacting but not detonating in the camp damaging one house. Hama: The camp remained relatively calm in most of the period with all facilities operational as in previous weeks. However, intensive clashes were reported at the end of the period between PFLP-GC inside the camp and armed elements from a nearby compound. Latakia: remained relatively calm throughout with all facilities operational in the camp as in previous weeks. However, two instances of PR attempting to force their way into UNRWA offices to speed up their papers or distributions, highlighting the terrible plight of PR in Syria.

Table 1: Number of PR and Syrian IDPs in UNRWA facilities as of 3 November 2013 showing variation (in brackets) with last update Issue 62






Damascus Training Centre  (DTC)

341 (-68)

365 (-68)

511 (-96)

1217 (-232)

Damascus (Jaramana Camp)

513 (+9)

448 (+21)

954 (+20)

1915 (+50)

Damascus (Mezzeh)





Damascus (Khan Eshieh Camp)

71 (+2)

61 (+1)

90 (+4)

222 (+7)

Damascus (Ramadan Camp)





Damascus (Dummar)





Damascus (Rukn Eddin)

164 (-1)

138 (+1)

256 (+3)

558 (+3)

Damascus (Khan Dunoun Camp)





Damascus (Al Qaboun)





















2158 (-58)

2118 (-45)

3824 (-69)

8100 (-172)

The number of displaced PR and Syrian IDPs in UNRWA facilities in Syria overall decreased by 172 from the previous update report Issue 62. There was a large decrease in the DTC of 232 and small increases in Khan Eshieh (+7) and Rukn Eddin (+3) all in Damascus. This is in line with a fairly constant trend since August as shown in the graph below.


Graph 4: Displaced Palestinian and Syrian refugees in UNRWAs facilities in Syria, monthly peaks